101 Foster Care Tips: The Role of Education
Following on from our previous article in which we discussed the importance of healthy eating during a foster placement, we turn our attention to the role of education and the impact that it has on children and young people in care.
Regardless of whether a child has been brought up in care or not, all young people should expect to remain safe and healthy, as well as have the opportunity to achieve, both inside and outside of the school environment.
We also understand that some children and young people in care may be at a distinct disadvantage to some of their peers when it comes to education, which is partly due to the fact that they may have experienced a slightly tougher, more vulnerable upbringing.
Education does indeed represent a counterbalance to the susceptibility experienced by the children and young people brought up in foster care, to which it is probably one of the only consistent elements in their lives.
As one of the country’s leading independent fostering agencies, we were recently commended in our ofsted report for the way in which the young people within our care have made improvements in terms of their school attendance, leading to lower rates of disruption both at home and in school.
It’s clear that we certainly understand the importance of education and school life, to which our unique matching process helps to ensure that children are kept in the same school, if it is beneficial to their development.
Another way in which we believe strong education beliefs have filtered through our fantastic fostering community, is with the introduction of virtual school heads. Their role is to provide an educational resource outside of the school environment by promoting excellence and achievement among fostered children. Here’s what Joanne, our Fostering Services Manager, has to say on the subject of virtual heads and education in foster care:
“Ask our virtual head for guidance on how to best support the child or young person placed with you. You can contact her via email or attend a drop in session. You can always learn with the child or young person – there are still things my children teach me.”
The advice from our fostering community…
“If they have been difficult in school before, they will struggle to get the benefit of the doubt – they are always the chief suspect when things happen. But you have got to be on their side no matter what. They need to know they can trust and rely on you.” – Elaine G
“Having a reward system in place is a great way to encourage them to do the work they need to. It may be if they do an hour of reading they get a treat and if they carry that on for a week then they earn a trip to their favourite café or restaurant.” – Alison
“If they are excluded from school, you have to make them feel like they would be better
off in school. They need to realise there are consequences and they still need to do the work that they are missing out on. You can’t let them just sit on the PlayStation all day.” – Elaine P
“First and foremost, you have to be their advocate. We had a boy who, because of his situation in the past, had a stigma attached to him. He was being monitored closely and felt like he was under a microscope – it was actually making it difficult for him to socialise with other children. You have to stand up for them in those situations because things are not going to get any better.” – Cathryn
In support of the advice and experiences shared by our fostering community, we recently reported on the fact that children who have experienced an upbringing in care are now achieving higher than average GCSE grades.
Interested In becoming a foster carer? Already a carer, but looking to transfer foster agencies? Please don’t hesitate in contacting one of our experienced social workers to find out more information.
Look out for our next installation where we’ll be finding out what our foster carers say about promoting hobbies and interests.